Warriors coach Andrew McFadden is desperate to arrest his side’s three-game losing streak, which could see them drop out of the top eight with just five rounds remaining.
Their 18-14 capitulation against the Sharks did little to boost team morale as they look to salvage a season which many have written off following the loss of star halfback Shaun Johnson with a broken ankle.
Leading 10-0, the Warriors enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and territory but couldn’t hold on as the resilient Sharks snatched the lead for the first time in the 70th minute with Ricky Leutele’s match-winner.
“It was always going to be a little disjointed with all the changes we had and I can sort of accept some of that,” McFadden said. “But we’re just going to have to be a bit better defensively.”
Hoping to bolster their troublesome right edge, McFadden admitted his decision to switch the left edge combination of five-eighth Chad Townsend and Solomone Kata to the opposite flank only left holes elsewhere.
“I thought they did a fair job to be honest. But our left edge wasn’t so strong tonight,” he said.
The weakness was exploited numerous times as the Sharks sent winger Valentine Holmes over for a second-half double to level the scores at 12-12.
“We were sort of building pressure through our defence and getting repeat sets. Then they got the ball and scored off one set,” said captain Simon Mannering.
While defence will be at the top of McFadden’s training list this week, he also expressed frustration after the team couldn’t convert its dominance in all key facets onto the scoreboard.
The Warriors had about 70 per cent of possession in the first half but scored just four points in the opening 37 minutes.
McFadden said the team will look to draw on positive aspects of the game when they meet the Dragons in Wellington next week.
That match starts a five-game run home, which also includes matches against the Panthers, Cowboys, Tigers and Bulldogs.
Asked how many of those games he believes they need to win in order to make the playoffs, McFadden said: “Probably three I’d say, maybe four. I don’t know, we’ll have to wait and see.”